Every night before going to sleep, my daughter and I snuggle in bed and talk. She tells me what’s on her mind, what’s worrying her, what she really wants Santa to bring her for Christmas.
One night not long ago, I was telling her about the American women’s soccer team, how proud I was that they’d won the World Cup. Her reaction floored me.
“It sounds like you’re bragging,” she said. “It sounds like you’re saying they’re better than everyone else.
“Uh … well … they did win,” I replied, slightly confused.
“I don’t like it when people brag.” There was the sound of imminent tears in her voice. “Other kids brag all the time about how good they are at things, and it makes me upset.”
“Why does it make you upset?” I asked. “Everybody has things they’re good at.”
“Because I’m not good at anything!” Sobs broke loose. “I want to be special, too, and I’m not!”
I was stunned.
I’m the kind of mother who makes a conscious effort to make my daughter feel special. I tell her what I like about her drawings. I praise her thoughtful behavior. I tell her how lucky I am that she’s my daughter.
But seven years of trying to make her feel good about herself seem to have gone unheard.
My daughter doesn’t feel like she’s special, and I don’t know what to do about it.